SHOP TALK: Clear View Filter – It’s Clearly The Choice
Written by: JT Photo & Videos by: JT
Someone once said that necessity is the mother of invention. While undergoing our last upgrade to Big Red, we certainly found the truth in this phrase. While I didn’t invent the idea for a remote filter, or invent this incredible part, I can assure you that it was absolutely necessary.
A simple, mundane service like changing the oil on our 572 Merlin big block is by no means an easy task. Our massive, custom 2.25” primaries make their way down right under the stock oil filter placement. The space between the header tubes and the oil filter housing is so tight that I can’t use a full-size big block filter. Even the smaller AC Delco part # 454 filter barely fits in this spot. Despite using this smaller filter, it is still equivalent to a beginner solving a Rubik’s Cube trying to get the filter past the tubes and into the spot straight enough to thread into the housing. Now imagine the horror and mess (btw…a mess for me is more than horror) that happens while trying to remove it! The collector is just inches from where the primary tubes get drenched with oil. This mess is nearly impossible to thoroughly clean and usually results in burning off the unseen oil residue even after a thorough shower with Brakeclean. This process stains my beautiful Cerakote finish and ruins my custom headers one oil change at a time. Dropping the oil from our massive Moroso oil pan was not as easy as it should be because of our mid-rise lift. The cylinder and locking arm are directly under the drain plug. Before I made a custom table that sits over and around the hydraulic cylinder, it was an act of contortion, strength, and focus while trying to balance my oil drain pan with 8 quarts in it. My custom table fixed that problem. So by now you get the gist that ANYTHING to make this process less painful was a welcome addition to Big Red.
At the sage advice of my dear friend and Gearhead Partner Shawn, I researched many remote oil filters. There are some very nice products out there that solve this problem. All this research led me to the hard and cold fact that I simply have no room inside of my engine bay yet alone for an industrial looking remote oil filter. If you are a frequent reader of my articles, you all know by now that I have issues when it comes to aesthetics, detail, and cleanliness. Every remote filter housing I looked at did not meet the standards and overall motif of my engine bay. So, life went on and I played with my Rubik’s Cube filter every time I changed my oil and like the cube, each time I played with it, I found a trick or two to make some sort of progress.
Our recent trip to the PRI Show in December (click to read article) proved itself to be a worthy, must-attend yearly event. Shawn and I are not just gearheads, we are specialists in many areas. Fabrication, machining, welding, mechanical, electrical, paint and body, between the two of us we can do it all. Shawn’s engineering background and degree gives us a huge advantage. Any custom part that we need he can design and send the file to someone who can produce the part for us. So, for us, looking through a catalog or someone’s web-site may be fun, but there is nothing like getting your own hands on a part that you have been thinking about purchasing. Your brain immediately figures out how and what is needed to implement whatever you are holding. While walking down one of the many aisles in the numerous exhibit halls, we blindly stumbled upon the Clear View Filtration booth like a shining star from heaven was guiding us.
As we approached, we were immediately greeted by an extremely friendly and knowledgeable woman who not only told us all about their product, but also gave us a demonstration on how it works right in their booth. At the conclusion of the demonstration, she asked us if we were able to wait a few minutes until her husband, Mike, “the inventor” was free to speak with us, and we were happy that we decided to wait. Mike is a wealth of knowledge that shares his passion freely with everyone who enters his display. Perhaps even more impressive than their patented filter design, is the American Dream success story that he and his wife Jessica have built. Clear View Filtration is a family-owned and operated company that makes its home here in the U.S. in the beautiful state of Washington. We thoroughly enjoyed hearing their story of success all the while his wife was greeting everyone that entered their booth with the same respect and information that she shared with us.
The Clear View Filtration housing is not just a remote oil filter. They allow the user to visually see oil pumping through the filter, which helps to determine the condition of the oil. When oil is not being pumped through the filter it can be quickly emptied using compressed air through a built in Schrader valve (a small bicycle pump will also work). A small shot of air applied to this port will empty the internal filter in seconds without draining or leaking any oil. With the oil drained back into the oil pan, the filter element is exposed so you can visually inspect the filter element and any filtered particles that may be present. Even when filtering nontransparent fluids like dirty oil, it allows the user to visually inspect particles and contaminants that were not filtered out of the engine to determine if they are from normal use, or from bearings and other components excessively wearing inside the engine. Like Mike says, “It’s like having an insurance policy on your engine.”
The internal screen is available at the 60-, 115-, and 380-micron level depending on your application. Clear View Filtration also makes a housing that supports a screw-on filter in addition to the internal screen, making this a true dual-stage filtration system. After consulting with Mike and listening to his expert advice, we opted to go with the 4” screw-on, see-through filter assembly part #400-115. Since the disposable screw-on filter catches the microscopic particles, the remote filter uses a high flow 115-micron coarse element when running 50 weight or lighter oil. We opted to use the KN 2002 screw-on filter along with our Brad Penn 20w50 oil. If you are looking for a larger filter than the HP2002, KN also makes the HP6002 which is a full two-quart filter that is 8.28” tall.
Now for those of you who paid attention in the beginning of this article, I mentioned that I simply have no room inside my engine bay for anything extra, yet alone an industrial looking remote oil filter. The Clear View Filtration remote filter is not only small, it’s an absolutely beautiful piece of art that works perfectly with the motif of my engine bay. The unit that we decided to use measures at 5” wide x 6” long x 3” thick and weighs only 3.4 lbs. Mike designed a choice of mounting brackets that bolt directly to the housing for easy installation. We chose the non-swiveling bracket. Clear View Filtration also offers numerous block adapters to fit your specific engine. Mike knew in a second which one of his adapters we needed, thus making this process all the more easy.
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Incorporating the Clear View Filter is a rather straightforward procedure. You’ll need to find the location of where you will mount the remote housing, ensuring you have enough room if you choose the optional screw-on filtered housing. You’ll also want to make sure that you can visually see the internal screen with ease and access the Schrader valve to drain the filter for inspection. Mounting the block adapter is as simple as removing the old oil filter and any hardware that your block uses to thread the filter on, and simply bolting the block adapter into the stock location. Once again due to zero clearance with our application this simple process took way more time and patience to install. For example, I had to modify my engines mid-plate to accommodate getting an AN wrench into the area to tighten the -12 oil lines to the adapter. Speaking of oil lines, this is the only area of difficulty in this installation process if you are not skilled at making your own lines. We absolutely love making our own lines as it is therapy for the soul. For our application, we opted to use -12 braided stainless hose with 90-degree high flow AN fittings. The system comes with the necessary -12 O-ring boss fittings to mount to the block adapter and the remote housing. All you need to purchase is the hose and specific hose ends for your application.
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For peace of mind, we ended up running our oil lines through a Performance Plus Connection Vulcan thermal sleeve due to the close proximity to the headers and oil pan. I also had to fabricate a small bracket to keep the oil lines away from the header tubes. I firmly believe in the ounce of prevention methodology and make all precautions when possible. We ended up mounting the remote housing to our front engine plate as it eliminated any need to fabricate another bracket. This location also made it the perfect spot to visually inspect the filter between passes. The Clear View Filter is sharing this real estate with my water pump, crank trigger bracket, fan shroud, front engine plate, and the induction tubes for the CryO2 system. Despite the limited space, with some careful planning and patience, I was still able to make it work. The Clear View Filter is so aesthetically beautiful it truly augmented the overall motif of my engine bay and will certainly become another conversation piece when someone sees my engine for the first time.
Once we had everything installed and triple checked every fastener and AN fitting for being tight and right, it was time to fire the beast up and see the Clear View Filter in action. I unfortunately had to sit inside Big Red and fire her up. She was sitting for a long time and needed my finesse to keep her running until she warmed up a bit. I gave my daughter’s boyfriend a thorough list and militant instructions of things to look for and pointed out every possible place where a leak could present itself. The most important task was to video the remote filter housing fill with oil for the first time then quickly get under the car and check every fitting. It only took Big Red a few minutes to come out of hibernation and warm up enough to idle by herself. I joined him under the car and inspected all my work with intense scrutiny. To be fair and honest, I wasn’t doubting the work that I did, I was inspecting the machining and design of the block adapter and the remote filter housing for leaks. During that initial fire up, I got the cold oil pressure over 60 psi and let her idle until it settled down at 45 psi. I whacked the throttle a few times and brought the pressure back up and then shut her down for more inspection. After another thorough inspection we were happy to not find any leaks. My collector was smoking due to the final removal of the old Rubik’s Cube oil filter, but other than that, the install was a success! But wait, the coolest part of this product still needed to be tested. I have to admit that I was super excited to watch the oil drain out of the top of the filter. I once again gave my “boyfriend-in-law” strict instructions on where to place the camera to video this process and connected an air chuck to the Schrader valve port. Now let’s pause for a moment before we do the victory dance and share the results of the video.
If you’ve read any of my other articles or even if you’ve followed this one closely, you probably get the sense that I like precision and accuracy. I was left a bit unsettled when I could not find anywhere in the supplied instructions, how much air pressure I should use to drain the beautiful Clear View Filter. It simply tells us to give it a “quick shot of air.” Another reference in the literature says that you can also use a small bicycle pump. Being a perfectionist, I tend to overthink this sort of thing and didn’t want to damage a brand-new product or the screw-on filter and ruin the complete install. After a little thought, common sense made me feel comfortable setting my regulator to 60 psi since my oil pressure was both higher and lower than that.
So, let’s get back to the moment of truth. With the video camera in place, I sent 60 psi into that bad boy and within seconds watched all the oil leave the top of the screen and to add to my excitement, no debris was left behind! This was an extremely satisfying process that absolutely demanded me to fire her back up and watch the entire process again. This time I was able to start Big Red up from the engine bay and watch firsthand the oil filling up the remote filter. This is truly an extremely cool process that instantly gives you peace of mind. For the record and for all of you, I did experiment with different air pressures ranging from 10 psi all the way to 150 psi. The Clear View Filter worked flawlessly and confirmed Mike’s statement that it really doesn’t matter what pressure you send into it. For those who are curious, when I set the regulator to 150psi, I did hear the oil bubbling inside of my oil pan.
The Clear View Filtration System solved my initial problem of dreading to change my oil because the difficulty level was ridiculous. Not only did the remote location make it the simple process it is supposed to be, but it also gave me two other things which I didn’t plan on. The first being the ability to see in real time the condition of the oil and internal engine wear, thus eliminating the need to drain the oil and cut open an oil filter at the track to see how things are doing (maybe that was two things). And while the final thing may not be important to some of you, it’s extremely important to me……. it looks so freaking cool!
Clear View Filtration makes several different products to accommodate your specific needs. From their stand-alone internal filter screen units, to the screw-on filter version that we used. They even offer dry sump filters, dry sump tanks, and hydraulic system filters for heavy machinery. The Clear View Filters are available in 4” and 6” sizes to accommodate all your oil pressure needs. They are available in clear or black anodized to fit your personal taste. They offer stud kits, air fittings, filter and block fittings, replacement O-rings, replacement filter elements, block adapters, mounting brackets, and even some really cool specialty tools. I encourage everyone to visit their website at www.ClearViewfiltration.com and check out all of the products they offer and read more in-depth technical information on their unique filtration system.
I am looking forward to attending PRI next year and personally thanking Mike and Jessica for this amazing product. Keep an eye out for one of Big Red’s many appearances this coming year and get an opportunity to see her and the Clear View Filter up close and personal. We love talking shop with everyone that stops by and we are delighted to answer any questions that anyone has about the car and the products that we use.
Until Next Time – Keep Wrenching